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William Carew

Location: Australia
Joined: 23 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Sep, 2010 7:48 pm    Post subject: Hungarian shields? Italian targoni? Narrow arm shields...         Reply with quote

Hi all

I'm looking for more information on a peculiar type of narrow forearm shield (buckler?) that may be related to the popular Italian civic battles and 'game of the bridge' (gioco del ponte) that raged from the late middle ages up until the last 'bridge of fists' fights (ponte dei pugni) in 18th century Venice.

When I was in Central Europe (I think these are from the Kunsthistorisches museum in Vienna) I snapped pictures of two such Italian (Pisan) shields from approximately 1542, with prominent iron 'spikes' sticking out (past the hand) on one end. You can see the pictures below, along with the description (in German):


Italianisch, Dat. 1542

Die beiden Schilde gehören zu einem italienischen Kampfsport nach Art des Giocco del Ponte in Pisa, weichen jedoch durch ihre Armierung mit einem Eisenstachel von den Pisaner Stüchen ab. Das Christusmonogramm dürfte sich auf den H1. Bernhard von Siena beziehen, was eine Zuordnung nach Siena nahelegt.

A very similar type of narrow, enarmed and spiked shield is featured in the Gladiatoria fechtbuch, where these items are described as 'Hungarian' shields and are used in tandem with a messer:

From memory, similar small rectangular shields strapped to the left arm are also shown in some Italian (possibly Milanese) 14th century friezes. I've seen some B&W images of these in David Nicolle's books, but don't have them to hand atm.

'Targoni' (which appear to be similar, but slightly different, larger and with rigid wooden handles) are still carried in modern day civic festivals and 'gioco del ponte' reenactments in Italy, especially in Pisa. From what I can gather, the targone is used quite differently, and is used alone (in contrast to the earlier medieval 'mazza-scudo' which involved using a wooden baton or club 'mazza' in tandem with the arm shield 'scudo').

I'm particularly interested in the earlier Gladiatorian and Pisan 16th century shields illustrated above (i.e. one that would be paired with an offensive weapon in the other hand ala mazza-scudo). Does anyone have additional images, information or references that may shed light on the origins, role, popularity and use of these interesting items? Thanks!

More links of interest:

Bill Carew
Jogo do Pau Brisbane
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